In her latest blog, our Education Manager and resident mummy blogger Jess shares her experiences from working at WA Police and the very frequent and numerous cases of Revenge Porn. If you'd like to keep up to date on cyber safety advice and app reviews, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter using the link (above right on desktop, below article on mobile).
Revenge porn is a term that has only entered the dictionary in the past few years. Defined as the sexually explicit portrayal of one or more people distributed without their consent via any medium. While it can have devastating consequences, it generally starts as a private act between two individuals, with a high number of incidents involving teens. When it does go wrong it can leave the victim feeling isolated and not knowing where to get help. During my time at Sex Crime Division, with the WA Police, I predominantly saw two examples of revenge porn. The first was when a relationship ended and explicit images or videos (usually sexting images) were passed on, without consent, usually to other school members. You can only imagine the torture this causes the victims when faced with thinking the whole school has seen their private photos. It often led to cyber bullying and/or serious mental health issues.
The other example that I saw increasing at an alarming rate, was when a young person was groomed by a cyber predator into a fake online relationship, encouraged to send naked photos and then blackmailed for either money or more photos. The predator usually threatened to share the photos with their friends and family if their demands were not met. The speed that children fall into these relationships would shock you and often I saw it happen in a matter of just a few interactions or “posts/comments”. Children are very vulnerable and will quickly believe situations that adults would question.
I once dealt with a young girl that truly believed she was in a relationship with a celebrity from a world famous boy band. Even though her mother and the Police saw blinding holes in his story, the young lady thought she was in love and had sent him several naked photos. As you can imagine the whole ordeal caused major distress to the whole family. Unfortunately examples like this occurred on a daily basis.
Nationally, people can be charged with ‘using a carriage service to cause offence or to harass or menace another person’ under Commonwealth telecommunications legislation. But, as in the case above, if the cyber predator resides outside their jurisdiction the Police are powerless to act, which is a common occurrence. So what can we do about Revenge Porn? Google and Microsoft have announced they will remove links from search results when reported by victims. Twitter, Facebook and Reddit have all banned revenge porn posts too.
More importantly though, we need to act proactively rather than reactively after things have gone wrong. As parents we need to teach our children that love should not require nude photos. Ensuring that our children love and respect themselves and demand respect from their partners too.
Jess is a
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